Well what a surprise. The Labour Party have paused their selection process for a new mayoral candidate to re-interview the three short-listed candidates.
Why is this really not a surprise? Simply because there are a key set of questions that need to be answered by everyone in the Labour Party now and especially those who wish to be their Mayoral Candidates. Let’s be frank. Two of the Candidates have been Deputy Mayor for most of the past decade ever since Paul Brant had to resign after his problem over drugs. Deputy Mayors are the number 2 in the whole political structure. They are the right hand of the Mayor. They are party to the key discussions that take place in private and public about contracts, strategies and policies. The questions that need to be asked are:
- Did you know what was going on? If you did know why did you do nothing about it?
- If you didn’t know what was going why didn’t you know given the positions that you held in the Labour Party?
If the Labour Party don’t ask these questions now I will at the election. They are the questions that the people of Liverpool should be asking as well before they go to vote on May 6th. Depending on the reply that is given we can make an assumption about the competence, intelligence and morality of whoever emerges from the Labour process and that person may not be one of the three currently being considered.
Do not underestimate the desire of national Labour Party for their Liverpool problem to go away. I meet and talk regularly to leading Labour Cllrs nationally. They cringe with embarrassment if the talk turns to Liverpool politics. This is not new. They have been embarrassed for years but the revelations likely to come out of the City will damage Labour nationally. If necessary, they will impose a candidate on the City Party as time is getting very short for them to resume the electoral process.
I am surprised at the lack of spine being shown by Keir Starmer and the 5 Labour MPs for Liverpool. I haven’t seen a word from any of them about the scandals that are unfolding. Of course, if the Labour Party really believed in transparency and integrity in these troubled times, they would tell the people of Liverpool what the delay is caused by. Who has told them what about who?
Much as Labour try to whistle through these difficulties, they can neither pretend that things are not that bad in our City nor can they hope that no-one will notice. In the past 8 years there have been more people arrested in Liverpool connected with Council activity than have been arrested in the whole of the rest of local government in the entire UK. No charges have yet been laid but I am certain that they will be. I am also certain that there are more arrests to come.
In addition to the Police we are the only Council in the UK which has a Government Inspection team in. The team of three are highly skilled and highly knowledgeable about local government work. I understand that they have been going over past activities within the Council with a fine tooth comb. Boxes are being drawn up from the Cunard basement that many will have hoped would be lost for good.
It stands to reason that there must be cooperation between these two enquiries. One enquiry has the statutory force of due legal process. One enquiry has long experience and knows how to use their experience to find problems and can insist that councillors and officers answer their questions. Together they are an irresistible force.
I don’t know how long the Police investigations will take place but we all know when the Government Inspectors will report. Because they are not involved with courts or proving things ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, they will report before the end of March and they will do so publicly. The report and recommendations will drop on the desk of the Secretary of State and the Council politicians and staff at the same time.
Their recommendations will be binding on the council and already they are making clear that levels of scrutiny within the Council are inadequate, that financial controls and protocols need to be put in place and that councillors in particular will need to mend their ways. I don’t think that Commissioners will be put in to run the Council because there seems to be a level of satisfaction with the work being done by officers. However, I am sure that there will be intervention and that certain sections of the Council will have outside support, which we will have to pay for, for some time ahead.
But the pain is not over for Labour. We heard last night of the resignation from the Council of Joanne Kushner. There has been no public reason given for her departure but we know that there are big upheavals and dissensions with Labour in the part of the City she represented. Labour numbers in Liverpool. In theory there are 74 Labour members of the Council. There has been one sad death, two resignations, 4 people elected as Labour sit as independents and the Mayor is on gardening leave reducing them to 66.
Is it a coincidence that she resigned on the same day as the internal labour election deferment or during the course of police and government enquiries? Only she or the Labour Party can tell us but I understand that she isn’t talking publicly. She is, of course, the wife of Cllr Barbecue Barry Kushner who had to stand down from the Cabinet for two months because of his impromptu Party during lockdown. Perhaps he’ll be going shortly as well?
I’ve been out delivering and safely talking to people this morning. I will share your blushes by not divulging the choice comments made by person after person as I went round about Labour in Liverpool and some of their members. Suffice it to say I gave them all the same message. “Don’t get mad, get even!” Let’s make May 6th a day of real change for our much suffering City. Join with us and elect a Lib Dem team which is a great mix of young and old, experienced and inexperienced but keen. Not one of whom has a question over their head relating to honesty, integrity or competence.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
There’s been a whole 24 hours since I wrote this blog so obviously it needs updating!!
The Police are asking for a further bailing of Mayor Anderson and the 4 people arrested with him until August. This is hardly surprising since the first arrests were made in December 2019 and charges have yet to be issued.
Meanwhile the Labour Candidate, Julie Fadden, who was only chosen a month ago and swore undying loyalty to the people of Childwall has announced the withdrawal of her candidacy this morning. When asked why she was going by a well-wisher she replied in a Tweet, since deleted, “not willingly forced to”. Whether this was connected to her announcement the day before that she was supporting Ann O’Byrne isn’t clear. But then nothing is clear about the internal spasms being had by the Labour Party.
In Childwall the last Cllr is standing down, the candidate who was going to fight the seat last May has gone, Fadden has gone so in less than 10 months Childwall Labour will have had three candidates!! Mind you I wouldn’t like to take on Pat Moloney who will win the seat against anyone in May. He has a sharp temper when roused!!! (Only joking – honest)